One of the issues with purchasing a new saw is choosing the right one for the job you need to be accomplished.
With so many different saws available, selecting the right one can be difficult unless you have a specific task in mind that only one type of saw will accomplish.
However, there are different saws that do seemingly similar things such as the scroll saw and band saw.
While both saws have their similarities, there are also some stark differences as well.
The biggest difference though is that the blade of the scroll saw moves up and down, whereas the band saw’s blade moves in a continuous downward motion.
The difference dissimilarity between both these types of saws also lies in the thickness and size of materials that they can handle.
Understanding the details of what makes each saw unique will help you decide which one is best for your workshop.
So, let’s cover some interesting details below along with the advantages and disadvantages of both these woodworking tools…
In this article we will cover:
The Scroll Saw
A scroll saw is similar in some fashion to a jigsaw.
This type of saw uses short, thin blades that oscillate at rapid speeds.
Unlike the jigsaw, the scroll saw is not portable.
This means that you push the material through the saw instead of pushing the saw through the material.
The speed of the blades is controlled by a foot pedal which can be challenging to those without experience with this type of saw.
If you decide that a scroll saw is right for your needs, then you will need to choose one with the proper throat size.
The throat is the distance between the blade and the back part of the saw.
Depending on the type of material you commonly work with, the throat size may be long or short.
The basic purpose of a scroll saw is to create relatively small objects such as crafts, decorations, figurines, and the like.
This is because the thin blades can make precision cuts into the material that is clean.
Many people use the scroll saw to create the following.
- Creating Letters, Names, and Numbers
- Figurines: Animal, Human, and the like
- Jigsaw Puzzles
- Wooden Plaques
If you need to create a precise shape, from an elephant to a state, then the scroll saw is a perfect choice.
The main attribute of a scroll saw is its ability to create precise curves and shapes when cutting.
Thanks to the fine blades, you can create the types of shapes that you desire.
This means that if your woodworking is mostly concerned with creating precise shapes for furniture, decorations, and the like, then a scroll saw is arguably the best saw you can purchase for this task.
Other attributes include the following.
Precision: Because of the clean-cut you get from a scroll saw, you can create intricate shapes such as jigsaw puzzles, figurines, and the like.
This is perfect for those who like to create small, intricate objects for sale or display.
Control: You can adjust the speed to fit the precise needs of the material that you are cutting.
This means that you can better handle the material and do so without having to move your hands away from the wood.
The foot pedal allows you to control the speed needed to get the cut that you want.
Plunge Cuts: When you need to make a cut inside the material, a scroll saw in an excellent choice.
For example, if you are cutting letters, creating the “A” or “O” is easy thanks to the plunge-cutting ability of the scroll saw.
You will need to make a hole to start the cut, but it is simple to plunge the blade into the hole.
As great as the scroll saw is for certain tasks, it’s not so great for others.
The scroll saw is a tool that has a specific use.
Arguably the biggest disadvantage is that the scroll saw is not designed to cut material that is more than an inch in thickness.
While you can upgrade the blade to something longer, the motor is not designed to handle thick material and you may wear it out quickly.
Other issues with the scroll saw include the following.
Straight Cuts: If you need to make a straight cut of a few inches or less, then the scroll saw will work.
Anything longer and it will not be a straight cut.
That is because the scroll saw itself is designed to be used in a freehand sort of way.
You draw out the design and follow the lines.
But a straight cut requires some type of bracing or guidance that the scroll saw lacks.
Therefore, if you need a saw that does plenty of straight, long cuts, then the scroll saw is not for you. But what about the band saw?
The Band Saw
Band Saw (or bandsaw) is a tool similar in style to a jigsaw something like the scroll saw.
You can use the bandsaw on a table or as a stand-alone device.
You’ll often see band saws used by contractors who take them to the job site.
Because of its relatively compact size given what it can do, the band saw is perfect for areas that cannot hold larger saws.
The band saw is designed to make long, straight cuts along with curved cuts into the wood.
They are designed with larger pieces of wood in mind.
Band saws come equipped with a fence that assists with rip cutting.
Plus, it has other tools that will help you create precise shapes.
The main use of a band saw is to cut through wood that is up to two inches in thickness.
In fact, you can cut material even thicker than that if you separate the work surface with the top of the machine where the blade circles through.
This means that given the power of the band saw, you can cut through thick, difficult material with relative ease.
You can get pretty creative with a band saw.
The most common uses of the band saw include but are not limited to the following.
- Planter Boxes
In other words, you can create quite a number of different projects when you use a band saw.
Band saws are fast, accurate, and create clean cuts.
If you need to make a straight, curved, or angled cut, the band saw can do it.
Straight Cuts: Band saws with the right fencing are quite good at making long, straight cuts into the wood.
While arguably not quite as efficient or powerful as a table saw, the band saw can do the job quite well.
This also applies to creating precision curved cuts such as arches, circles, and similar shapes.
Control: By keeping your hands on the material and not the saw, you can make precise cuts easily.
This lets you be more accurate in terms of the type of cuts you need to create.
Fast: Because you move the material through the saw and not the saw through the material, you can make faster cuts with a band saw compared to a jigsaw.
So powerful is the band saw that with the right blade you can cut through metal as well.
It is the versatility of the band saw that makes it a popular choice in woodshops and on job sites given its compact nature.
Despite all the benefits, there are a few issues with the band saw.
Most notably, the speed and power come at the sacrifice of creating a smooth edge.
The cut it creates will be rough enough that the material will require sanding to smooth it out.
This is a considerable downside compared to a scroll saw which makes far cleaner cuts that require less sanding.
Other issues with the band saw include “no plunge cuts”.
Because the blade is essentially a circular ribbon, you cannot make the plunge cuts as a scroll saw.
That means when you try to create the letter “O”, you will not be able to cut out the inside hole with a band saw.
Unless you cut through the letter itself to get to the inside.
Scroll Saw Vs. Band Saw: Which is Better for Your Project?
The question is not which saw is better because they have different purposes.
But you will need to choose the one that best suits your needs.
Type of Projects:
If you need to make intricate designs into relatively small materials that are less than an inch thick, then the scroll saw is a perfect choice.
Its oscillating blades create smooth, clean cuts in small material.
However, if you need to cut through material greater than an inch in thickness, then the band saw may be the better choice.
This is especially true for professional settings when you are working with large amounts of thicker wood.
Versatility and Budget:
If you need a saw that can do the most work, then the band saw has the advantage over the scroll saw.
There are some things a band saw can do like a scroll saw, but less so the other way around.
With that said, a scroll saw is noticeably less expensive compared to a band saw.
Although price should not be a deciding factor.
Just like many other comparisons, when we compare a scroll saw vs. band saw, there is no clear winner.
Both have their own unique properties with pros and cons.
Overall, if you are working with larger, thicker materials, then get a band saw.
If you are working with smaller materials that need precision cuts, then get a scroll saw.
If you need to make lots of straight cuts, then a band saw is superior. Otherwise, choose the one that best suits your needs.
Hi, I am Mark Garner a professional carpenter, woodworker, and DIY painter. I live in the small city of Peoria, Arizona as a semi-retired woodworker. I have started this blog with a simple motive to help you with my wood experience in this sector. If you like to know more about what I love doing and how it all got started, you can check more about me here.